One teacher for the entire school!
The challenges of pursuing education for children in rural Bangladesh are manifold, poverty and early marriage are only to name a few.
The situation deteriorated during the pandemic-enforced school closures, which lasted for over 18 months, and the the grim economic situation following the Russia-Ukraine war is also not helping these children.
On top of it, there's an acute teacher crisis in most of these village institutions, making the situation even more difficult.
Case in point: Khalisha Chapani Farhana Rouf Government Primary School in a Teesta shoal in Nilphamari.
Around 181 students are currently enrolled at the school and there's only one teacher available for them.
Following a recent visit, this correspondent saw only seven of 181 students were present on the day. The attendance dropped massively after the school re-opened following Covid closures, and it hit rock bottom as classroom activities became irregular because of lack of teachers, said students and their guardians.
The headteacher went into retirement two months ago, while two teachers were transferred to other schools a year ago.
Kallyani Rani Roy, a class five student, said, "Students prefer to stay home and assist family as going to school has now become a waste of time with no teachers to teach us there."
Meanwhile, Jannatun Akhtar of the same class said most of the boys took up different hazardous professions and girls were married off during the prolonged Covid closures.
Regarding the teacher shortage, Shahin Zahangir, chief executive of an NGO working with education, said, "Most teachers don't want to teach in remote areas, hence the crisis."
Protima Rani Roy, the only serving teacher in the school, said, "I've to do the work of a headteacher and also of a clerk by opening and shutting down school, hoisting national flag etc. I requested the authorities concerned to appoint more teachers."
Sumon Chowdhury, head of the school management committee, said," Our efforts for increasing attendance in the school is falling short because of the teacher crisis."
Wishing anonymity, some teachers in the area said getting posted in a remote school is considered as a punishment among them, because of poor facilities.
Md Rasheduzzaman, assistant primary education officer in Dimla, said, "We have already ordered two teachers to join the school, but they are still trying to lobby their way out of this duty."
Nobezuddin Sarker, district primary education officer, said, "I'm aware of the matter and will appoint manpower after completion of the recruitment process of new teachers next month."